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Florida Surgeon General Addresses Opioid Epidemic At Jacksonville Health Conference

Florida Surgeon General Celeste Philip
Ryan Benk
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Florida Surgeon General Celeste Philip
Credit Ryan Benk / WJCT News
The Florida Channel
Florida Surgeon General Celeste Philip

At a health care conference in Jacksonville Tuesday, Florida’s surgeon general said help is on the way for Duval and other counties dealing with the opioid crisis.

More than $27 million federal dollars will be used in the regions most affected by addiction and overdoses. Counties are expected to get the extra federal funds as soon as June.

State Surgeon General Celeste Philip spoke at series of workshops on the opioid crisis shortly before declaring a public health emergency earlier this month. She said the money will go toward fighting addiction in Duval, Orange, Palm Beach and Manatee counties.

“At each of those workshops we heard proposals for how each county was going to address overdoses, provide medication-assisted treatment as well as other therapies and wrap around services,” she said.

Philip said the Department of Children and Families will disburse the money through regional entities that decide which programs will be funded. In Duval, that’s Lutheran Services Florida.

Duval Health Department Director Kelli Wells, who was recently named as Philip’s deputy secretary, said the county health departments’ focus will be preventing pregnancy in opiate-addicted mothers and providing services to babies born addicted.

“So, a place that we can step in with our family  planning programs (is) using long-acting, reversible contraceptives to prevent unintended pregnancies in this at risk population,” she said.

Wells also said she’d like to enact a needle exchange program, similar to a Miami pilot lawmakers approved two years ago.

Wells said because drug addicts commonly share or use dirty needles, the opioid dilemma is also responsible for a rise in blood-borne diseases like HIV and Hepatitis.

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Ryan Benk can be reached at , 904-358-6319 or on Twitter @RyanMichaelBenk .

Copyright 2020 WJCT News 89.9. To see more, visit WJCT News 89.9.

Ryan Benk is originally from Miami, Florida and came to Tallahassee to attend Florida State University. He worked on Miami Dade College’s Arts and Literature Magazine- Miamibiance Magazine and has published poetry and a short film called “ The Writer.” He’s currently working as the Newsroom’s Researcher while finishing his Creative Writing Bachelor’s Degree at Florida State University. When he’s not tracking down news, Ryan likes watching films, writing fiction and poetry, and exploring Florida.